Garden Talk: July 5, 2007

From NGA Editors

New, Red Japanese Painted Fern

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Ferns are popular shade garden plants that add texture and interest to areas where many plants won’t thrive. While the dominant color of ferns is green, the Japanese painted fern adds a silvery touch with just a hint of burgundy. Now there is a new variety of painted fern that adds even more color to shady areas.

‘Ursula’s Red’ (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Ursula’s Red’) is a new variety of Japanese painted fern. In spring the fronds are white on top and red on the bottom. The white color fades to pale silver in summer as the red becomes more dominant. The maroon-red color is most pronounced on the veins and stems. ‘Ursula’s Red’ contrasts well with variegated hostas and green ferns in a shade garden. This vigorous fern grows into a 2-foot-wide and tall clump in shady to partially shady areas. It thrives with consistent moisture on humus-rich soil. ‘Ursula’s Red’ is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.

For more information about ‘Ursula’s Red’ Japanese painted fern, go to: Wayside Gardens.

Simple, Safe Wasp Deterrent

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Wasps and yellow jackets have a habit of ruining outdoor picnics and gatherings. They often build nests close to houses or in our yards and can become a nuisance when we try to use our outdoor living areas.

While there are many repellents and pesticide sprays on the market to control these insects, a new control device is safer and easier to use. The Waspinator is a 12-inch-tall, lightweight, fake wasp nest made from recycled polyester fabric. It takes advantage of the natural behavior of these insects. These are primarily visual creatures that use their keen sense of sight to catch their prey. They are also very territorial. If a wasp or yellow jacket sees another nest in an area, it will avoid that area and nest elsewhere. By hanging the Waspinator in your yard, you can keep wasps and yellow jackets at least 20 feet away. You may need more Waspinators for larger areas.

For more information about the Waspinator, go to: Waspinator.

Rose Hips May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Roses have been known for years to be not only beautiful but edible and medicinal as well. The rose hip, in particular, can be used in applesauce, soup, stew, marmalade, bread, pie, jam, and jelly. The rose hips are high in vitamin C and can be made into a tea to treat a variety of ailments such as colds and osteoarthritis. Now researchers in Germany and Denmark claim that rose hips may also help combat the more debilitating rheumatoid arthritis.

German researchers worked with 74 people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. One-half of the group received daily doses of a rose hip powder, while the other half received a placebo. After six months, 40 percent of the treatment group reported less pain and 20 to 25 percent reported more mobility when compared to the control group. Both groups continued to take their regular medications during the study. Researchers believe rose hips are loaded with specific fatty acids that are highly anti-inflammatory and loaded with antioxidants.

For more information about this rose hip research, go to: BBC News.

Native Ground Cover for Deep Shade

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Ferns and hostas may make a big impact in shady areas, but don't overlook the beauty of smaller ground covers, especially when they burst into bloom like Meehan's mint. This native, creeping mint (Meehania cordata) bursts into bloom in spring with trumpet-shaped lavender flowers with a white lip and a spotted purple throat. It grows 6 inches tall, and the trailing stems root as they creep along the soil, however it's not as invasive as other creeping ground covers, such as ground ivy.

The most rewarding feature of Meehan’s mint is that it will flower even in full shade. It prefers moist soil, and is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8.

To learn more about this native ground cover, go to: Sunlight Gardens.

 
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